CRIMES OF THE HEART
by Beth Henley
September 7 to 29, 2018
Director: Ken Stern
Producer: Theresa Arneaud
About the play….
The scene is Hazlehurst, Mississippi, and Babe Magrath is having a bad day. She didn’t like the way her husband looked, so she shot him. Needless to say, he’s not too happy about it. Now out on bail, Babe reunites with her two sisters to make sense of their most recent misfortunes. Meg is back from a failed career in the music industry. Lenny is lamenting her forgotten 30th birthday. Their mother is dead, and so is the cat, and so too, nearly, is Granddaddy—not to mention their horse, who has just been hit by lightning.
Their troubles, grave but somehow hilarious, are highlighted by their priggish cousin, Chick, and by the awkward young lawyer who tries to keep Babe out of jail while helpless not to fall in love with her. In the end, the play is the story of how its young characters escape the past to seize the future—but the telling is so true and touching and consistently hilarious that it will linger in the mind long after the curtain has descended.
“… a durable showcase for actresses in the two decades and more since it won the Pulitzer Prize. A little bit Chekhov and a little bit Eudora Welty, it tells a twangy story of three Southern sisters loving, feuding and fussing through a very bad day.”
~ Charles Isherwood, New York Times
About Beth Henley, the playwright….
Beth Henley was born in 1952 in Jackson, Mississippi to a lawyer father and an actress mother. She was one of four sisters.
Crimes of the Heart was Henley’s first full-length play and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1981 as well as the award for Best American Play of 1981 from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. The play also earned Henley a nomination for a Tony Award, and her screenplay for the film version of Crimes of the Heart (with Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek, and Sam Shepard), was nominated for an Oscar as Best Adapted Screenplay.
Henley has stated that growing up with three sisters was a major inspiration for the play, but remains coy about exactly how true to life it is. “That’s what we [writers] do,” she laughs. “Draw on what we know. Everything I write is an amalgamation. I don’t pin any one thing on any one person.”
Characters in Henley’s plays may seek happiness but are betrayed by modern civilization. It’s been said that her work is absurdist Sigmund Freud with an Southern accent.
About Ken Stern, the director…
In his career as high school drama teacher and department head, Ken directed 24 musicals, 15 plays, and 50 collective shows – such plays as Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii, The Crucible, Tartuffe, Picnic, Twelfth Night and Two Gentlemen of Verona, as well as musicals like Oliver!, West Side Story, The Music Man, and Cabaret.
Now released from the bonds of employment, Ken has directed plays for community theatres both east and west of us: Picasso at the Lapin Agile (East Side Players), The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Jitters, The Sisters Rosensweig, and Amy’s View (Burl Oak Theatre Group). Crimes of the Heart is the first show he has directed for Village Players